Lighter, more environmentally-friendly yachts are under construction, thanks to a new carbon fibre steerable thruster developed by Rolls-Royce.
The company has signed an agreement with Italian yacht maker Benetti to produce the lightweight thrusters, which are built using advanced carbon fibre epoxy composites in load carrying parts, for use in its megayachts.
The new thruster, known as the Azipull Carbon 65, has high propulsion efficiency, is easy to maintain, and provides good manoeuvrability. It also allows the layout of the vessels to be improved, the company said.
As well as fast yachts, the thrusters could also be used in passenger vessels and workboats.
The first thruster in the series, the AZP C65, is designed for vessels with a power rating of 2MW, and is fitted with a fixed pitch, pulling-type propeller, or one that faces forward.
Since the propeller faces forward, the way in which water flows into it is only determined by the hull itself. This makes it possible to obtain a more uniform water flow to the propeller, thereby avoiding unsteady cavitation. This in turn minimises propeller noise and vibration.
The driveline is designed with two spiral bevel gear sets, which are installed in a supporting structure that ensures it has the best load carrying capacity under all operating conditions. Power is transferred from the input shaft in the upper unit down the steerable underwater parts to the propeller shaft and pulling propeller itself.
The thruster can be steered using a hydraulic system. An automation and control system has also been developed for the new thrusters, which each weigh only 2,800kg when dry.
The first yacht covered by the agreement, called IRONMAN, has already been delivered, while the second and third hulls are under construction, and should be completed within the next few months.